Government of Bangladesh and GIZ collaborate for prisoner rehabilitation

To build effective partnerships for a sustainable rehabilitation process of inmates and released prisoners in Bangladesh, “Improvement of the Real Situation of Overcrowding in Prisons in Bangladesh (IRSOP)”, a project implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs, has organized a multi-stakeholder workshop on May 6-7, 2014, in Dhaka.

The German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the British Department for International Development (DFID) and the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacionaly Desarollo (AECID) from Spain have commissioned theDeutsche GesellschaftfürInternationaleZusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH to carry outthis project, in partnership with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Prison Directorate. The two-day workshop titled,“We have not forgotten you – Pathways for Rehabilitation of Prisoners”was opened by the Honourable State Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr. Asaduzzaman Khan, MP along with Mr. C Q K Mustaq Ahmed, Senior Home Secretary,Dr.Shawkat Mostafa, Additional Secretary-Law & Planning, Inspector General of Prisons, Brigadier General Syed Iftekhar Uddin, Ms. Alokananda Roy, dance therapist for rehabilitation of prisoners in India and Richard Miles, Principle advisor from GIZ.

The workshop focused on how to offer the prisoners and their families a chance to reintegrate into the society and avoid possible re-offence. Innocent until proven guilty might be valid on paper, but the reality often draws a gloomy picture for someone imprisoned and under trial. With no work and hardly any chances to get work, with their family and community avoiding them, a release from prison often means another harsh slap by reality. In their desperation and poverty, re-offence is many times their only way to survive and the straight way back into prison – a vicious cycle!

Guests and representatives from the Prison Directorate, Directorate of Narcotics Control, the Judiciary, Bangladesh Police, institutions and agencies providing marketable skill development, vocational training and employment opportunities, attended the workshop. Moreover, the Directorate of Youth, Department of Social Service, Bangladesh Ansars and VDP and Directorate of Health or specialized agencies from the non-government or private sector, involved in drug management and skill development, graced the occasion. The Honorable State Minister, stated, “The vision of the Ministry of Home Affairs, is for Prisons to function as correction centres, where prisoners enroll into various programs such as skills training, drug rehabilitation, counseling, and educational course while serving their sentences with a goal to bring positive changes in their lives.

We believe that this will contribute to the rehabilitation of prisoners and hopefully also reduce the risks of reoffending.” Mr. C.Q.K. MustaqAhmend, The Senior Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs stated that “the Strategic Plan for the Department of Prisons prepared through consultation of GIZ has detected the need for employable skills to ensure reintegration and as a result reduce recidivism.”

“Our motto is ‘Keep safe and show the pathway towards light’. We do realize that this challenge cannot be achieved by the effort of the Prison Directorate only. The entire pathway can be guided for the prisoners with joint collaboration with all the related sectors” stated the Inspector General of Prisons, Brigadier General Syed Iftekhar Uddin.

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